When a 13-year-old runaway threatened to leave a Miami pimp, police say, he forced her to a Liberty City flea market tattoo shop to ink his street name, “Suave,” on her eyelids.
The vicious twist to a human trafficking case surfaced this month when Miami police arrested Roman Thomas III, 26, who was already on probation after serving four years in state prison for having sex with a minor.
Thomas was wearing a state corrections GPS monitor when Miami police arrested him on March 18.
The girl, dubbed “Sparkle,” was pimped through the classified advertising website Backpage.com, police say. Thomas and a woman plied the girl with liquor, marijuana and the drug Molly as she had sex with men at the Miami Shores Motel.
“It’s outrageous that this girl would be branded for life at such an early age, on of all places her eyelids,” said Miami Lt. Jose Alfonso, who investigated the case as part of the State Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit.
Thomas will be formally charged in the new case on April 13. Another woman, Shanteria Sanders, 23, who also has “Suave” tattooed across her chest, also was charged in the case. Both Thomas and Sanders face charges of human trafficking, false imprisonment, lewd and lascivious exhibition and delivery of a controlled substance to a child.
Thomas, 26, has a long criminal history. In 2008, he was charged with attempted murder and other felonies. He wound up pleading guilty to the felony battery and four counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a child between the ages of 12 and 16.
After his four-year prison sentence was done, Thomas was released in September, and placed on five years probation with the ankle monitor.
As recently as March 1, state probation officers inspected his GPS monitor and device, with no problems. But on March 10, probation officers received a “bracelet gone” notice from the device and officers notified the court.
Two days later, according to Miami police, Thomas met the 13-year-old girl at the USA Flea Market, 3015 NW 79th St. A day later, he saw her again and convinced the girl to go with him to the Miami Shores Motel, 10500 Biscayne Blvd., where he was now living.
Thomas and Sanders “compelled and coerced” the girl to become a prostitute. They took “provocative” photos of the girl and put them on Backpage.com, billing her as a “new girl.”
The free classifieds website has popped up in court papers and arrest affidavits across the country as a bulletin board for men to traffick children, including some recent cases involving Florida foster children in the Homestead and Jacksonville areas.
Police say Thomas and Sanders gave the girl condoms, coached her how to talk to johns and began bringing in clients who paid up to $100 an hour.
After each encounter, Thomas and Sanders immediately came into the room and counted the money. Once, they duct taped her and “threatened to kill her” after an argument over missing cash, according to an arrest report.
When she threatened to leave, they took her back to the Flea Market. On the right eyelid: “Suave,” Thomas’ street name. On the left, “House,” suggesting she belonged to his flock.
The girl also told investigators that the duo gave her liquor, marijuana and “Mollies,” a form of the amphetamine MDM.
The girl had run away from a tumultuous home life, police said. Her mother, fearing she was being pimped, tracked her down and found her with Thomas. The teen’s mother later called Miami police. The teen now is receiving therapy and health services through Project Gold, a program of Miami’s Kristi House, a nonprofit that assists abuse victims.
Investigators say they believe there are other young victims out there and have established a hotline. Anyone with information may call the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Human Trafficking Hotline at 305-350-5567.